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Airport competition: What's in it for you?


It's numbers time again, and this week brought two sets of airport stats that show you how meaningful or meaningless they can be, depending on your goal.

In this case, we have the list of 2016's busiest airports by passenger count, with Atlanta leading the list as it has for years, and a list of the airports with the greatest percentage of on-time arrivals and departures, headed by Paris-Beauvais. 

No airport is on both lists. And while airports compete to trumpet their 'victories,' and to sell to advertisers and meeting planners, for passengers there's really no practical use to the lists.

The fact that Atlanta set a new record, over 140 million passengers, might increase the statistical chances that you'll be one—but it won't make you choose a flight that goes there.

And while you might be attracted to the 95.9% on-time record of Paris-Beauvais, unless you are flying on Ryanair, you'll likely have no choice but to pass through Paris-CDG, which has the worst punctuality rate in Europe, at about 50%.

All disclaimers aside, here are the lists. There are two for busiest; one by passengers and one by flights. The differences there can be significant: an airport with lots of flights by small planes will score higher on the second than the first.

Top Ten for Punctuality 

  • Paris Beauvais-Tille Airport—95.9
  • Tokushima91.6
  • Kochi (JP)91.5
  • Newcastle91.4
  • Dortmund90.9
  • Birmingham Airport90.8
  • Hilo90.6
  • Minsk International Apt90.6
  • Cardiff90.4
  • Surabaya90.4

Top Ten in Flights 

  • Atlanta (ATL)—898,356 (2015: 1st)
  • Chicago (ORD)—867,635 (2015: 2nd)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)—697,138 (2015: 4th)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)—672,748 (2015: 3rd)
  • Beijing Capital (PEK)—606,086 (2015: 5th)
  • Denver (DEN)—565,503 (2015: 7th)
  • Charlotte (CLT)—545,742 (2015: 6th)
  • Amsterdam (AMS)—496,256 (2015: 13th)
  • Shanghai (PVG)—479,902 (2015: 15th)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)—479,199 (2015: 10th)

Top Ten in Passengers

  • Atlanta (ATL): 104,171,935—(2015: 1st)
  • Beijing (PEK): 94,393,454—(2015: 2nd)
  • Dubai International (DXB): 83,654,250—(2015: 3rd)
  • Los Angeles (LAX): 80,921,527—(2015: 7th)
  • Tokyo Haneda (HND): 79,699,762 —(2015: 5th)
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD): 77,960,588—(2015: 4th)
  • London Heathrow (LHR): 75,715,474—(2015: 6th)
  • Hong Kong (HKG) 70,305,857—(2015: 8th)
  • Shanghai (PVG) 66,002,414—(2015: 13th)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG): 65,933,145—(2015: 9th)

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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